Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 35 - 2008


Hellenic shipowners acquires 146 second hand vessels in 7 months

August 31, 2008
---According to data compiled by shipbrokers Allied Shipbroking, a total of 146 second hand vessels have been acquired by Hellenic shipowners during January to July 2008 period. Of the total, 86 were dry bulk carriers, 51 were tankers and 9 were container ships.
On a global basis, the value of second hand deals reached almost USD 25 billion, for a total of 819 ships, bearing a capacity of 38.3 million tonnes. Dry bulk carriers were the most popular with 416 of them changing hands. They were of an aggregate capacity of 16.4 million tons and their value stood at USD 12 billion. Tankers followed with 272 of them changing owners. They were worth USD 8.9 billion and their capacities stretch at 19.3 million tonnes. As expected, container ships come in third place, with 77 being bought for a total of USD 2.5 billion.
On the contrary, new building order activity has not been that intense, at least when compared with the relevant period of 2007. For the first half of 2008, Allied places the total number of orders to a total of 119 vessels, worth USD 8.2 billion and carrying 1.4 million tonnes. During the same period of 2007, a total of 303 ships of 25.3 million tonnes and worth USD 16.8 billion had been contracted.

Greek Market Report / S&P Commentary
Grand Union has placed an order of four suezmaxes and two post-panamax tankers at South Korea's Sundong Shipbuilding. The order for four 158,000dwt tankers at the yard with delivery slated for 2011 at a price thought to be between $96m and $98m each, and two 75,000dwt LR1 tankers with delivery in 2011 at around $60m each, adds to an orderbook at Sundong already at six 170,000dwt and two 180,000dwt bulkers for delivery 2009 and 2010. -- See page 1.
Pireaus-based Tomasos Brothers has reportedly firmed an order for six 52,000dwt MR prodtankers at just over $51m each. The ships are due for delivery in 2012 from Guangzhou Shipyard International.
Meandros Lines has reportedly ordered its first suezmax tanker, a 159,000dwt unit to be built at Sundong Shipbuilding for delivery second half of 2011. The ship is said to be costing less than $100m.
Perosea Shipping has taken up an option held at Daesun Shipbuilding for a 34,000dwt bulker for $37m, making four bulkers Perosea has contracted this year at the South Korean yard.
London-listed Goldenport Holdings has contracted two more bulk carriers of 57,000dwt at Qingshan Shipyard of China for a total $91.66m, with estimated delivery in December 2010. Upon delivery, the first vessel will be employed under an agreed t/c at the rate of $27,000 a day for three years with a "high quality charterer". Goldenport already has six new-build supramaxes on order. Paris Dragnis, ceo of Goldenport, said: "Following the sale of our aged bulk carriers Samos and Ios, on which we realised strong profits of more than $33m, we wanted to maintain the balance between containers and bulk carriers in our fleet and also to expand the fleet with younger tonnage." He said that "given the current high prices of second hand bulk carriers, we decided to invest in two additional newbuilding supramaxes, which are in our preferred sub-segment of the bulk market".
Meanwhile, the Vafias group has terminated a contract for four post-pamamax bulkers at Chinese yard Qingdao Jimo Mastek Shipyard (QJMS). Brave Maritime let go of four 92,100dwt bulker contracts with delivery slated for 2010 and 2011 as the yard was unable to provide refund guarantees. The order would have cost around $192m.
Vafias-controlled, New York-listed, Stealthgas is said meanwhile, to be closing in on a $250m project for two 158,000dwt tankers at Jiangsu Rongsheng HI for delivery in 2011 and 2012.
With Hyundai HI joining steel maker Posco, GS Group and Hanwha Group as serious contenders for the 50.4% stake in rival Daewoo S&ME, now owned by South Korean government-controlled banks and is worth $3.1bn, a bidding war is looming and analysts believe the price will be pushed up, some say as much as between $7bn and $8bn. However, many feel Daewoo and Hyundai have too many overlaps in key segments such as VLCCs and bulkers and a deal could prove very risky for Hyundai. Others believe too many potential antitrust issues and resistance from labour unions over job cut fears will hinder Hyundai's chances. A preferred bidder will be named in October.
As the s&p market slowed for holidays and the 2008 Olympics, there was time to look at the s&p dealings so far this year. According to Allied Shipbrokers and Newsfront data, some 150 ships were purchased by Greek interests in the first seven months of 2008 for an investment of $6.83bn.
Leaving aside the plays involving fleet acquisitions like that of Excel Maritime's $2.4bn buy of Quintana Maritime, this represents just under 20% of all ships to change hands and just under 30% of the total investment, making the country's nationals by far the industry's most active players at the s&p table.
Since the beginning of August, the action has picked up, with a number of major deals involving Greeks concluded or in the pipeline. Just see Newsfront's lead stories and the s&p column following.
Among most recent deals US-listed DryShips/George Economou is said to have purchased the three-year-old 76,608dwt bulker Maple Valley for $63m with a t/c attached at $26,000 a day to December 2012. Keeping it within the family, Nasdaq-listed OceanFreight has bought a tanker from Economou's management arm Cardiff Marine. The 95,800dwt double hull Tamara, built 1990 has changed ownership for $39m. The Tamara has been fixed to tanker-pool operator Heidmar at $27,000 a day for two years.
Indian tanker company Pratibha Shipping has purchased the 47,000dwt double-hull products tanker Sovereign, built 1992 for around $26.5m from US-listed TOP Ships. To be delivered charter-free TOP bought the vessel for around $25m in July 2005 from Pareto Shipping.
Meanwhile, Chinese interests are said to have bought a 76,000dwt bulker for $56m on order at Shanghai Jiangnan Changxing HI of China for delivery in 2010. Brokers say the seller is Greek, possibly Dynacom Tankers or US-listed Diana Shipping.
Brokers report Prime Marine Management has sold the 46,538dwt double-hull prodtanker Sinoussa, built 1990 to an undisclosed buyer for $27m. The ship and three 1989-built sisterships were purchased from Eletson Corp for $65m en bloc with five-to-six-year bareboat charters back to Eletson at $7,500 a day. Also in the energy sector StealthGas, the US-listed Vafias-controlled owner declines to comment on reports it has concluded 50,000dwt tanker resale from J Lauritzen for $57.5m. The ship is building at Guangzhou Shipyard in China with delivery in 2009.
Primerose Shipping has done well from the sale of the 69,128dwt bulker Seaflower, built 1995 to an undisclosed buyer for $70m having purchased the ship late 2003 for just $15.2m. Starmarine Management has also made big bucks on the 25-year-old 30,000dwt bulker Elpida selling it for $21m to an undisclosed buyer having purchased it in 2002 for just $3.1m as the Chios Sailor. Another deal reflecting today's prices is that involving the 28,900dwt bulker Zografia, built 1978 for a reported $11.9m. Seller, Vulcanus Technical purchased the ship mid 2001 for $1.75m.
US-listed FreeSeas has purchased the Voge Katja for $39.6m, a 1998-built, 23,994dwt bulker built in Japan, to be re-named Free Maverick, which comes with a t/c through April/July 2009 at $32,000 a day. Commenting, Ion Varouxakis, ceo said: "The addition of the Free Maverick is compelling for two extremely important reasons. First, she comes to FreeSeas with a charter through next year at a very competitive rate. Furthermore, she will be delivered within the next two to three weeks, and will be contributing revenue almost immediately.''
Greeks have also been scrapping ships, with Polembros Shipping is said to have set a new scrap record for a conventional tanker, getting $800/lwt for the 27,700dwt prodtanker Cobra, The 1982-built reportedly went to Bangladesh and the $6m raised is some $2m more than the $4m paid by the Polemis brothers when the ship was bought from compatriot Ancora Investment in 2000.
The George S Livanos has reportedly sold two prodtankers for demolition. They are the 39,730-dwt 1983-built sisters Achilleus and Artemis which are said to have gone 'as is' in Singapore to Bangladesh at $780/ldt or $7.5m each. Livanos is said to have paid between $7m and $8m each for the ships when purchased several years ago.

Oceanaut Takes Out Its Checkbook
The company has entered into definitive agreements to purchase four drybulk vessels from Irika Shipping S.A. for a total consideration of $352 million. The acquired vessels, which aggregate approximately 279,000 DWT, include three Panamax vessels and one Supramax vessel, which are described above together with their prospective employment.
Statistically, the average fleet age is 4.4 years with average charter coverage of 3.3 years.
The acquisition cost including working capital ($10 million) and fees ($10 million) will be funded from SPAC Cash ($161 million), a Credit Facility ($196 million) and preferred shares purchased by Excel ($15 million). Controlling 22.7% of the company, the sponsor group agreed to convert 5.6 million shares into non-cumulative subordinated shares, which will not be entitled to receive dividends until the 2nd quarter of 2010. Thereafter dividends on the subordinated shares will be paid from operating surplus provided that common shareholders have received full payment of all base dividends.
The balance of the shares, 77.3%, is controlled by the public.
HSH Nordbank and Commerzbank provided the $196 million credit facility, which matures in December 2018. The loan bears interest at LIBOR +165 bps and amortizes to a balloon at maturity.
For the first full year of operation, the Company is projecting revenues of $69.7 million, EBITDA of $60.6 million and free cash flow of $48.6 million. The company is proposing a quarterly dividend of $0.28 per share or $1.12 annually which equates to 13.6% yield.
The transaction is now in the hands of the shareholders. Approval requires the vote of over 50% of the shareholders, while less than 30% can vote against it and elect conversion. The risk to the transaction in our estimation lies with the no vote.
The company makes a strong case for the transaction. First and foremost, Excel, as sponsor, has not only subordinated its shares but it has also invested an additional $15 million in preferred equity.
Financing for these projects will come from warrant proceeds, additional credit facilities, follow-on offerings and retained cash flow.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Source: Freshly Minted 28 August 2008

GrandUnion drafts fleet deal with Tailwind
Tailwind raised about $100m in its initial public offering on the American Stock Exchange, completed on April 17 last year, and was originally hunting for a business combination in the financial services sector.
Instead, the proposed top management line up will include as chief financial officer Allan Shaw, currently a director of Navios Maritime Holdings.
The company would be turned into a full-time, integrated shipowning and shipmanagement business, the statement said.
Of the fleet to be acquired, there are 11 existing bulkers, valued at more than $600m. But the letter of intent also included nine newbuildings ordered by GrandUnion for delivery in 2010 and 2011, to bring the total fleet to about 2m dwt.
According to Tailwind, the initial fleet will generate earnings before interest, tax and depreciation of more than $113m for 2009.
These include the precise fleet to be acquired and a total price.
GrandUnion has been operating a number of panamaxes and capesizes acquired second hand, but it has confirmed an extensive dry bulk newbuilding programme including six capesizes, which when ordered had three further options, six kamsarmaxes plus options and up to seven handysize bulkers.
For Tailwind a reverse merger with hedge fund manager Asset Alliance, a proposed tie-up unveiled at the start of this year, collapsed earlier this month.
Any deal will need to be approved by a majority of the shares of common stock voted by the public shareholders of Tailwind, with owners of less than 20% of the shares exercising conversion rights and voting against.
Source: Nigel Lowry, Athens - Thursday 28 August 2008

Grand Union firms up six-tanker order
---A Greek bulker player is poised to grow its tanker presence with contracts in South Korea.
Piraeus-based bulker player Grand Union has strengthened its presence in the tanker market with an order of four suezmaxes and two post-panamax units at South Korea's SunDong Shipbuilding.
The order lifts Grand Union's newbuilding portfolio to 26 units.
Sources say the company has booked four 158,000-dwt tankers at the yard with delivery slated for 2011. No price has been revealed but the yard is said to be quoting between $96m and $98m each.
Grand Union has also secured a pair of 75,000-dwt long-range-one (LR1) tankers with delivery in 2011. The coated tankers carry a price tag of around $60m each.
The orders mark a new venture for Grand Union, which was launched a few years ago as a joint project between Greek owners NewFront Shipping, controlled by Nicholas Fistes, and Zolotas family-controlled StamfordNavigation.
At SunDong, Grand Union has another six 170,000-dwt and two 180,000-dwt bulkers booked with delivery slated for 2009 and 2010.
The company also has another five 35,000-dwt handysize bulkers on order at SPP Shipbuilding and nine 81,000-dwt kamsarmaxes and five 180,000-dwt capesize bulkers under construction at C&Heavy Industries (C&HI). All 19 units are set for delivery between 2010 and 2012.
This is not the first time Grand Union has been linked to a tanker order. Earlier in the year, the company was said to have been involved in a suezmax deal at Hyundai Heavy Industries but this deal was subsequently denied by the company.
Another order for six chemical tankers has also been mentioned as being on order in China but details of the project have yet to emerge.
Grand Union lists 15 bulkers and one products tanker in the water.
By Yiota Gousas, Athens, published: 29 August 2008

Globus Maritime Reports Results for 2Q & Six Months Ended June 30, 2008
All the following figures are in United States Dollars, except for the dividends which are in Pounds Sterling.
Second Quarter 2008 Highlights versus Second Quarter 2007:
First Half 2008 Highlights versus First Half 2007:
EPS of US99.68 cents, calculated on 28,655,756 shares outstanding at June 30, 2008.
Source: press release,

Goldenport Holdings - Interim Results for Six Months Ended 30 June 2008
---Goldenport Holdings Inc. ('Goldenport' or 'the Company'), (LSE: GPRT) the international shipping company that owns and operates a fleet of container and dry bulk vessels, today announces interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2008. As of today 100% of the fleet available days for 2008 and 84% for 2009 are already fixed under period employment.
Financial Highlights (amounts in US$ '000 except per share data):
* Revenue of US$ 80,131, +39.4% increase (2007: US$ 57,501)
* EBITDA of US$ 46,378, +27.6% increase (2007: US$ 36,358)
Including gain from vessels' disposal
* EBIT of US$ 63,807, +103.0% increase (2007: US$ 31,428)
* Net Income of US$ 60,871, +88.6% increase (2007: US$ 32,277)
* Earnings per Share of US$ 0.87 calculated on 69,910,651 shares (2007: US$ 0.46 calculated on 69,885,106 shares)
Excluding gain from vessels' disposal
* EBIT of US$ 30,581, +10.3% increase (2007: US$ 27,736)
* Net income of US$ 27,645, 3.3% decline (2007: US$ 28,585)
* Earnings per Share of US$ 0.40 calculated on 69,910,651 shares (2007: US$ 0.41 calculated on 69,885,106 shares)
* Gain from vessels' disposal of US$ 33,226 realised within the period (2007: US$ 3,692)
* Available cash of US$ 47,720 (31 December 2007: US$ 19,947)
* Net debt to book capitalisation 28.2% (31 December 2007: 40.9%)
Operational Highlights (daily rates in US$):
* In the first half of 2008 we operated an average of 23.6 vessels earning a daily Time Charter Equivalent (TCE) rate of US$ 19,173, (2007: 19.2 vessels earning a daily TCE rate of US$ 15,618);
* During the first half of 2008, 6 vessels underwent scheduled dry-docking and 3 vessels completed their dry-docking that commenced in late 2007;
* On 30 June, 2008 our fleet included 22 operational vessels of which 15 were containers and 7 bulk carriers, compared to 19 operational vessels on 30 June 2007, of which 10 were containers and 9 bulk carriers.
Recent Fleet Developments (amounts in US$ '000):
* In May the fully depreciated dry-bulk vessels 'Samos' (built 1982) and 'Ios' (built 1981) were sold realising a profit of US$ 33,226;
* On 20 August 2008, the Company entered into a contract with Qingshan Shipyard for the construction of two bulk carrier vessels of 57,000 DWT each, with estimated delivery in December 2010, for a total consideration of US$ 91,660;
* On 20 August 2008, the fully depreciated container vessel 'Glory D' (built 1978) was sold for a net consideration of US$ 4,005, realising an estimated profit of approximately US$ 2,800;
* The fleet now consists of 32 vessels, of which 17 are containers and 15 are dry-bulk carriers. Out of the total, 10 vessels (2 containers and 8 bulk-carriers) are new-build with expected deliveries between 2008 and 2011.
Source: News Release, Goldenport Holdings Inc, 28 August 2008

Strikes hurt

Ceremony pays tribute to crew's heroism
---THE professionalism and courage shown by Torbay's lifeboat crew in rescuing eight merchant seamen in a horrendous winter storm from the sinking Ice Prince was rewarded at a big presentation ceremony.
Devon's Lord Lieutenant, Eric Dancer, Royal Navy representative Commander Peter Sparkes and Torbay Council chairman Cllr Michael Hytche were among the VIP guests.
At the Berry Head Hotel ceremony, the Brixham crew's heroic efforts were rewarded with the RNLI's official Thanks on Vellum.
The certificates were awarded to second coxswain Roger Good, deputy second John Ashford, mechanic Matthew Tyler, second mechanic Nigel Coulton, and crew members Darryl Farley and Alex Rowe.
Each framed certificate was personally signed by the RNLI president, the Duke of Kent.
A seventh certificate was awarded jointly to the crew of the Coastguard helicopter India Juliet who had earlier winched off 12 men from the scene, 35 miles off Start Point.
All 20 seamen, employed by a Greek timber shipping company, were safely rescued on the night of January 13 and reunited in Brixham before being repatriated to Greece and the Phillipines.
The Portland helicopter crew comprised Capt Kevin Balls, Senior Officer Glen Stacey, winch operator Roy Holder and winchman Gary Mitchell.
Torbay coxswain Mark Criddle has already been presented with the RNLI's silver medal by the Duchess of Cornwall earlier this year at a London awards night, for his part in leading the Brixham crew.
It was the highest award for any RNLI coxswain in the previous 12 months.
He was praised for his outstanding seamanship and courage in making 50 approaches to the stricken cargo vessel as the last eight crew leaped one by one to safety, including Captain Arvinitis Charalampos.
The lifeboat Alec and Christina Dykes sustained some hull damage as the 6,500 tonne Ice Prince smashed down on the bow.
Dangerous conditions on the night were described by Commander Sparkes of HMS Cumberland who said the crew's gallantry and the seamanship of its coxswain were the finest he'd ever seen from a lifeboat in a long Navy career.
The RN frigate was one of the first on the scene and Commander Sparkes watched the whole drama unfold.
He told the 200-strong audience that his own vessel was rolling 35 degrees in the gale force winds and heavy seas, which had caused the Ice Prince's timber deck cargo to shift and send her listing without power.
He also praised the Brixham Coastguard co-ordinators and the crew of the Salcombe lifeboat which had stood by in a secondary safety role.
Torbay operations manager David Ham said: "It was a great night and the praise was thoroughly deserved.
"There has only been one previous rescue to earn the Thanks on Vellum.
"Several years ago the crew of the inshore lifeboat saved two teenagers from a flooded cave at Roundham, so this is an important occasion for everyone at the station."
Source: 09:54 - 27-August-2008,